5 Tips For Elderly Patients With Dental Anxiety

July 12, 2017

If you are afraid to see your dentist you are far from alone. In fact, estimates range that between 9 and 20-percent of US residents are harboring some form of dental anxiety which is so severe that it keeps them from seeing the dentist,which has an effect on their overall oral health.

Obviously understanding and overcoming anxiety issues with seeing a dentist is important so that any oral health issues can be identified and treated as early as possible. Here we look at what dental anxiety actually is, and how it can be managed and overcome.

Dental Phobia Or Dental Anxiety

Dental anxiety is the result of a fear. When that fear is not remedied it can become a dental phobia. A phobia will make you so terrified and panicked that you will avoid anything related to a visit with a dentist. This may result in you skipping or delaying routine check-ups and cleaning visits.

Plus, if you have a phobia you are probably aware of the fact that your fear is of an irrational nature but because of how it makes you feel, you can’t do anything about it. If you have a dental phobia, severe oral health issues may be all that forces you to (reluctantly) see a dentist.

Additional Signs Associated With Dental Phobia

If you have trouble sleeping the night before your dental visit you could have a phobia. Nervousness that peaks when waiting in the dental office for your appointment, or feelings of suffocation when objects are placed in your mouth at the dentists are also signs.

Should you experience emotional situations such as crying or even feeling physically ill just by thinking about being in the dental examination room, you are most certainly dealing with a phobia. The key to preventing anxiety from developing into a phobia is to understand the causes and how to treat and deal with them.

5 Causes Of Dental AnxietyAnd How To Deal With Them


  • Embarrassment


When your dentist or hygienist is so close to your face, it can bring on many different anxious feelings. You may be embarrassed about the way your teeth look, concerned that you may have bad breath or other reasons such as that your deodorant is not working well.

The best way to deal with this is to remember that your dentist is doing his or her job and nothing more.So, in other words, there is no need for you to get worked up over it. These are professionals you are dealing with. They deal with situations probably much worse than yours multiple times every day of the week. They are not judging you.


  • Pain


This is the most common reason people will avoid a dental appointment. The fear of pain may come from different sources ranging from a bad experience at a much younger age or stories told by others. For most elderly dental patients, this can be a paralyzing fear.

The truth is that dental procedures today are not as painful as they once were. In fact, thanks to advancements in technology and equipment design, many dental procedures are actually pain-free. These changes have helped remove the association many make with dentists and pain.


  • Needles


You don’t have to be an elderly patient to have a fear of needles or injections of any kind. It is a real fear for many and it crosses all boundaries and demographics. When those needles are inserted into your mouth, it translates into a whole new kind of anxiety.

Again, with credit going to technological changes in the dental industry there are such things as numbing gels and topical anesthetics that can be applied to the gum that enable a localanesthetic needle to be used without the associated pain. This means that, although needles are still being used, the entire process can be pain-free.

You can also use happy gas to ease your nerves, which can also make the whole process easier.

If you have a problem with needles, enquire about using topical anesthetics.


  • Side Effects


The use of anesthesia does concern many elderly patients for various reasons. In addition to the dizziness that accompanies it, the feelings of faintness and nausea are all side effects that can be the source of a lot of anxiety and fear. However, it is needed to perform some procedures.

If you are one who is most uncomfortable with the numbness and slurred speech that can result until the anesthetic has worn off, you can relax. You can ask your dentist to allow you to spend some time in a waiting room until you are comfortable enough to go back home.


  • Helplessness


For some elderly patients, visits to the dentist involving dental implants or false teethprocedures can be quite long. When you are reclined in a dentist’s chair with your mouth wide open, it is not hard to see how one would feel helpless. That is particularly true when you cannot see exactly what is going on. The uncertainty can bring on anxiety in many people.

The best way to deal with this is to have your dentist talk you through the procedure. The right dentist will explain everything and show you what is happening in order to settle your nerves. It’s not uncommon to ask for this, so if you feel a sense of helplessness, make sure to inform your dentist so they will be able to take extra care.

Other Things To Do

Make sure that you discuss your anxiety issues with your dentist long before your appointment. Work out some kind of game plan that works for both of you. You can also establish a signal of some kind that you can use to stop what is happening so you can gather your thoughts, rinse your mouth or just catch your breath.

Your dentist will address your needs in order to help you relax while in their chair.If you can beat your dental anxiety at your next visit to the dentist, you are that much closer to preventing it from developing into a much more serious dental phobia in the future.

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